Anaesthesiologist Dr. Bourne doesn’t put students of MHS’ Health Science Academy to sleep. (Photo courtesy Mike Boucher)
By Mike Boucher, Director, MHS Health Science Academy
Mammoth Hospital – newly renovated – has some amazing, state of the art medical equipment. Most visitors to the hospital see the new emergency room, imaging department and operating rooms as patients, not exactly the best way to “enjoy” the experience. Imagine receiving a personal tour of the operating room, led by an anesthesiologist and a team of highly trained nurses. Follow that with a guided visit to the labor and deliver department presented by the hospital’s obstetric physician and you’ll have an idea of the treat that 21 new members of Mammoth High School’s Health Science Academy experienced last week.
Dr. Jonathan Bourne, head of anesthesiology, and Dr. Victoria Mohr, from obstetrics and gynecology and their staff, hosted a motivated group of sophomores for their first in-depth field trip to Mammoth Hospital on Sept. 22. The students, members of Mammoth High School’s new Health Science Academy, are beginning a three-year program to prepare them for careers in medicine. The field trip, part of their Introduction to Health Science class, was the first step in exposing these students to the myriad career choices in health care.
Students arrived at the hospital and were quickly ushered into the operating wing of the hospital where they changed into scrubs. Sophomore high school students just 15 years old were quickly transformed, at least visually, into the nurses, technicians, medical records assistants and doctors of the future. Clothing says a lot about a person, and the hospital and high school staff could see each student imagining a career in health care, with real job responsibilities and career opportunities.
With Dr. Bourne in the lead, students filled into the brightly lit operating room. Chief operating room nurse, Margie Klammer RN, quickly highlighted the methods the operating room team follows to ensure sterility and patient safety. Dr. Bourne demonstrated the machinery for monitoring patient blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, pulse and respiration. He described anesthesia options available to him during a variety of procedures. Students were able to observe video footage of a recent knee operation, learning how damaged cartilage could be repaired by arthroscopic surgery.
The theme of teamwork and belonging to a profession — where nurses, doctors, and technicians see a patient from the beginning of their operation through their recovery — made a big impression on academy students.
Next on the day’s busy agenda: Dr. Mohr and the obstetrics ward. Of the 21 students in the academy this year, 19 are female, all very interested in visiting the labor and deliver department. Dr. Mohr showed them the comfortable labor rooms and gave some background in the types of experiences mothers had while in labor and while giving birth. Lots of questions followed, and Dr. Mohr was ready for them, providing quick and clear responses. Dr. Mohr’s also outlined her interest in providing volunteer medical care for underserved women domestically and internationally.
Followup visits to the hospital will be a regular part of the curriculum for the Health Science Academy’s students. The emergency room and medical/surgical ward hosted academy students on Sept. 24. Lori Baitx RN, a long-time Mammoth resident and the director of the emergency room, led the way through her facility. Baitx explained the concept of triage: sorting through the severity of patient cases to determine which patients are seen first by emergency room staff.
Nurses on duty in the medical/surgical recovery ward explained their duties of patient monitoring and care. By the end of the day’s visit a number of new career opportunities had been demonstrated and explained to the eager students.
Students next began a job-shadowing program that started in early October, which will be repeated monthly throughout the year. During the program, students will split up into pairs and visit a different department each month, where they will establish a relationship with individual staff members at the hospital. Next year, when they are juniors in the program, they will have a mentor in the health care field, who they will meet with monthly. By the time they are seniors, the students hope to begin internships either at the hospital or with other health care providers in Mammoth.
Team work, responsibility, community service and career possibilities are the main themes which Mammoth High School’s academy students took away with them as they left Mammoth Hospital. Seeing the connections between the subject matter they learn in the classroom and the specific jobs they observed in the hospital will likely be the incentive they need to make the most of their high school years and experience a relevant education.